Duel With The Devil

Duel With the Devil

by Paul Collins

Ricki Brodie (04/21/14): When I read the blurb on this book I was very intrigued. I could not imagine a time when Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton would partner up as defense attorneys to save a man in one of the first murder trials in the U.S. in which guilt was not already a given. This has been the longest “cold case” in our nation’s history. Elma Sands, a beautiful young Quaker woman, was found dead in a well constructed on property owned by Aaron Burr and the Manhattan Company (later to become Chase Manhattan Bank).

The news of the horrible crime spread throughout the states. A young carpenter, Levi Weeks, who lived in the same rooming house and befriended Elma, was charged with the crime. The city at almost riot levels was calling for his death by dissection. Levi’s brother, a contractor in the city, had done work for Burr, Hamilton and Brockhurst Livingston (later a Supreme Court Justice) hired “the dream team” to defend Levi.

Mr. Collins paints a picture of the times and provides a great deal of background on the political climate, rivalries and election coming due. His research is incredible, I learned a lot and I enjoyed the book; however, I felt like I was reading a term paper (only the footnotes were at the end). The style was too much like news reporting. However, I did appreciate a refresher on the events leading to the duel. He also solves the mystery after 200 years. WTG. 3+
Rating: ***+

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